Portal:Speculative Fiction
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Portal:Speculative Fiction
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Speculative fiction is an umbrella phrase encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts.

It has been around since humans began to speak. The earliest forms of speculative fiction were likely mythological tales told around the campfire. Speculative fiction deals with the "What if?" scenarios imagined by dreamers and thinkers worldwide. Journeys to other worlds through the vast reaches of distant space; magical quests to free worlds enslaved by terrible beings; malevolent supernatural powers seeking to increase their spheres of influence across multiple dimensions and times; all of these fall into the realm of speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction as a category ranges from ancient works to cutting edge, paradigm-changing, and neotraditional works of the 21st century. It can be recognized in works whose authors' intentions or the social contexts of the versions of stories they portrayed is now known. For example, Ancient Greek dramatists such as Euripides, whose play Medea (play) seemed to have offended Athenian audiences when he fictionally speculated that shamaness Medea killed her own children instead of their being killed by other Corinthians after her departure. The play Hippolytus, narratively introduced by Aphrodite, is suspected to have displeased contemporary audiences of the day because it portrayed Phaedra as too lusty.

In historiography, what is now called speculative fiction has previously been termed "historical invention", "historical fiction," and other similar names. It is extensively noted in the literary criticism of the works of William Shakespeare when he co-locates Athenian Duke Theseus and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, English fairy Puck, and Roman god Cupid all together in the fairyland of its Merovingian Germanic sovereign Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In mythography it has been termed "mythopoesis" or mythopoeia, "fictional speculation", the creative design and generation of lore, regarding such works as J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Such supernatural, alternate history, and sexuality themes continue in works produced within the modern speculative fiction genre.

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Selected profile #1

Herbert at the Octocon II convention in Santa Rosa, California, October 1978 (Robert E. Nylund).
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics and power. Dune itself is the "best-selling science fiction novel of all time," and the series is widely considered to be among the classics in the genre.

In 1947 Frank Herbert sold his first science fiction story, "Looking for Something", to Startling Stories. His career as a novelist began with the publication of The Dragon in the Sea in 1955, where he used the environment of a 21st century submarine as a means to explore sanity and madness. The book predicted worldwide conflicts over oil consumption and production. It was a critical success but not a major commercial one.

Dune took six years of research and writing to complete. Far longer than commercial science fiction of the time was supposed to run, it was serialized in Analog magazine in two separate parts ("Dune World" and "Prophet of Dune"), in 1963 and 1965. It was then rejected by nearly twenty book publishers before finally being accepted. One editor prophetically wrote back "I might be making the mistake of the decade, but..." before rejecting the manuscript.

Selected profile #2

Cordwainer Smith was the pseudonym used by American author Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (July 11, 1913-August 6, 1966) for his science fiction works. Linebarger was a noted East Asia scholar and expert in psychological warfare. Linebarger also employed the literary pseudonyms "Carmichael Smith" (for his political thriller Atomsk), "Anthony Bearden" (for his poetry) and "Felix C. Forrest" (for the novels Ria and Carola).

Linebarger was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father was Paul M. W. Linebarger, a lawyer and political activist with close ties to the leaders of the Chinese revolution of 1911. As a result of those connections, Linebarger's godfather was Sun Yat-sen, considered the father of Chinese nationalism. As a child, Linebarger was blinded in his right eye; the vision in his remaining eye was impaired by infection. His father moved his family to France and then Germany while Sun Yat-sen was struggling against contentious warlords in China. As a result, Linebarger was familiar with six languages by adulthood.

At the age of 23, he received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.

Selected media

Dalí Atomicus
Credit: Photo credit: Philippe Halsman

This photograph, entitled Dalí Atomicus, explores the idea of suspension, depicting three cats flying, a bucket of thrown water, and Salvador Dalí in mid air. The title of the photograph is a reference to Dalí's work Leda Atomica which can be seen in the right of the photograph behind the two cats. This is an early unretouched version where the suspension wires are still visible. (POTD)

Selected work

Title page of Honoré de Balzac's The Magic Skin (1831).
La Peau de chagrin (English: The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass's Skin) is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine.

Before the book was completed, Balzac created excitement about it by publishing a series of articles and story fragments in several Parisian journals. Although he was five months late in delivering the manuscript, he succeeded in generating sufficient interest that the novel sold out instantly upon its publication. A second edition, which included a series of twelve other "philosophical tales", was released one month later.

Selected quote


--Brian Aldiss (b.1925), Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction (1973).
More quotes from Wikiquote: science fiction, fantasy, alternate history

Selected article

The iCub robot at the Genoa Science Festival in 2009
The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three science fiction laws written by Isaac Asimov, which most robots appearing in his fiction have to obey. First introduced in his short story "Runaround" (1942), they state the following:

1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The Three Laws are an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's fiction, appearing in the Foundation series and the other stories linked to it, as well as Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them, and references (often parodic) appear throughout science fiction and in other genres. Technologists in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create real machines with some of the properties of Asimov's robots, have speculated upon the role the Three Laws play in such research.

Did you know...

Arthur C. Clarke in 2005

  • ... that before beginning a career in animation, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh worked as a vice president of sales and marketing for a computer company, where he "freaked out" and decided to quit?

On this day...

August 19:

Film releases

Television series

Births

Deaths


Possible futures

Possible events in the future as suggested by science fiction:

  • Dr. Robotnik seizes control in 3224 of the planet Mobius, the name of the former planet Earth.
  • Jenny, the daughter of the Doctor, is born on July 24, 6012 on the planet Messaline.
  • On April 27 of 2,774,020, Murcheson's Eye explodes into a supernova and becomes a black hole.

Upcoming conventions

August:


September:

 

Dates can usually be found on the article page.


See also these convention lists: anime, comic book, furry, gaming, multigenre, and science fiction.

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Speculative fiction topics

Creators: Artists (list· Authors (by nationality· Editors
Media: Animation · Anime and manga · Comics · Films (list· Games (board · role-playing · video· Literature (magazines (pulp· novels · poetry · stories· Opera · Radio · Television (films · list · sitcoms· Theatre
Subgenres: Alternate history · Apocalyptic · Biopunk · Comedy · Cyberpunk (derivatives· Dying Earth · Gothic · Hard · Human society · Military · Mundane · Planetary romance · Recursive · Social · Soft · Space opera · Spy-fi · Steampunk · Sword and planet · Tech-noir · Western (Space)
History: Films · Golden Age · New Wave · Scientific romance
Related genres: Fantasy (Science fantasy· Mystery · Horror · Slipstream ·  · Superhero
Themes: Artificial intelligence · Extraterrestrials (First contact·  · Hyperspace ·  ·  · Politics (Libertarian · Utopia/Dystopia · World government· Religion (Christian · ideas·  · Sex (Feminist · gender · homosexuality · reproduction·  · Slipstream · (weapons· Stock characters · Superpowers · Timeline (Alternate future · Future history · Parallel universes · )
Subculture: Fandom: By nationality · Conventions (list· Organizations -- Studies: Awards · Definitions · Journals · New Wave
By country: Australia · Bangladesh · Canada · China · Croatia · Czech Republic · France · Japan · Norway · Poland · Romania · Russia/Soviet Union · Serbia · Spain

Horror

Creators: Artists · Authors
Media: Anime and manga · Comics (US· Films (list· Games · Giallo · Grand Guignol · Magazines · Novels · Television
Subgenres: Body · Comedy (list · zombie comedy· Dark fantasy · Dark romanticism · Ero guro · Erotic · Ghost · Gothic · J-Horror · K-Horror · Lovecraftian · Monsters (Frankenstein · vampire · werewolf· Occult detective · Psychological · Religious (film) · Sci-fi (film) · Slasher (film) · Splatter/Gore (film) · Supernatural · Survival · Weird menace · Weird West · Zombie apocalypse
Related genres: Crime · Mystery · Speculative · Thriller
Others: Awards · Conventions · LGBT · Portal · Writers

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Learning resources

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The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Study Guides
Books

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Wikinews 
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Quotations

Wikisource 
Texts

Wikiversity
Learning resources

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